LinkedIn Best Practice Guide - Part 1: Build Your Profile
(Last updated 10/10/20)


Introduction | Privacy | Profile SummaryAnnouncing That You Are Looking For WorkYour Profile DetailsAvoid These MistakesReferences

Given the current state of the economy and employment, many members of the Jamat may find they will soon need to re-enter the job market. Now is the time to prepare for your job search, which often involves creating or updating your LinkedIn profile.

Did you know that 93% of recruiters use LinkedIn as part of their candidate search? LinkedIn ( is the top professional social networking site with 500 million members (133 million users in the U.S. alone) and reaching 200 countries and territories around the world. Having an up to date LinkedIn profile helps build trust and keeps you in the loop on potential employers.

Your LinkedIn profile is your shop window. Often it is the first thing that recruiters will look at when you contact them. If you make a half-hearted attempt to fill in the minimum necessary, this will come across to the recruiter. If you approach your LinkedIn profile professionally and systematically, it will immediately stand out from the many others who have not made the effort.

In this first of three guides, we will show you how to establish a solid and impressive presence on LinkedIn by building your personal profile.

The Aga Khan Economic Planning Board has prepared this comprehensive best practice guide to help with building your presence on LinkedIn and is also offering 1-to-1 assistance with your CV, cover letter or interview preparation. Please contact us on [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help.

Before You Begin: An Important Word On Privacy

The privacy settings on LinkedIn are very different from other social media networks, so you need to be careful to make sure you're only showing people what you want to.

Firstly, when updating your profile you'll notice a “Share with network” button – if this is selected then all of your followers will see your updates on their newsfeed, so you should save this for the bigger moments.

More broadly, when you're editing your profile, you can turn off "activity broadcasts" so you're not advertising all your little edits to your entire network. After logging in, Click on “Me” in the top bar, then “Settings & Privacy”, then click “How others see your LinkedIn activity” on the left, then click on the “Share job changes…” and select “No”. When you are finished with your changes you can turn this back on.

You'll also be given the option to make things public or only visible to your connections – it's a good idea to make some things public so they show up for employers who are searching on LinkedIn or Google. However, you may not wish your current employer or colleagues to know you are actively looking or updating your LinkedIn profile. Follow the advice outlined so far, but you may also wish to add further restrictions. After logging in, Click on “Me” in the top bar, then “Settings & Privacy”, then click “Blocking and hiding” on the left, then select from the presented options to add further security.

People will be notified if you visit their profile and likewise, you'll be notified of whoever visits yours. You can disable this in your privacy settings so you can browse anonymously, but in exchange, you'll no longer be able to see who's looking at your profile.After logging in, Click on “Me” in the top bar, then “Settings & Privacy”, then click “How others see your LinkedIn activity” on the left, then click on the “Profile viewing options” and make your selection.

Your Profile Summary

Your LinkedIn profile is similar to your CV/resume, however you should write as if you are having a conversation with someone. Inject your personality and let people know your values and passions, while remaining professional.

When logged to LinkedIn, navigate to your profile page using the toolbar at the top. Click the icon labelled Me and then View Profile which will take you to your profile page. Either click the pencil icons on the right side of each section to directly edit, or click Add profile section near the top to include another section from the list.

Your LinkedIn profile summary consists of the following key elements, which should all be filled in:

  • Name
  • Headshot photo
  • Background photo
  • Headline
  • Contact Info
  • Open to work / Providing services
  • About box

Of course you’ll need to fill in your first and last name, but few people take advantage of this space to put short keywords at the end of their name. Though unconventional, this tactic can help recruiters immediately understand what you do and will help your profile rank higher for that phrase in keyword searches.

Headshot photos are also very powerful on LinkedIn. LinkedIn members with a profile picture are 14 times more likely to receive page views. However, it is important to use a professional looking headshot of you alone and to just wear what you would to work. There is also the option to upload a background or cover photo. You should take advantage of this to add something relevant to your job search or business, rather than leaving it as a bland default.

The headline section is just below your name and offers 3 or 4 short lines to summarise yourself. Your headline should stand out and highlight what you do or what type of position you're looking for. You can do that in the form of short sentences or simply as keyword phrases separated by “|”.

At this point, it is important to note that when a search is conducted using the LinkedIn search bar, only a few key bits of information are returned in the search suggestions. These bits are (from left to right): headshot photo, full name, degrees of separation and first few words of the headline. On the search results page, a few more bits of information are displayed, such as location, current position and services provided. Only a few words are shown for each section of information, so it is critical to make them count.

Top Tip:

A great tip is to search for people on Linkedin and see how the results are filtered and then displayed on the results page.

Try with a few people you know and then try with “career coach” as a search phrase, for example Lori Bumgarner, Passion and Career Coach - Passion & Career Coach | 3x Author | Speaker - paNASH.

Note how the photo, name and headline is displayed. The difference in professionalism between the two groups will jump out immediately and will provide you with a lot of useful pointers from the profile pages of various career coaches.

Just below the headline, a link to your contact information is displayed. You should add any or all of your: email address, Twitter handle, blog URL, or anywhere else you’d like to be found, as long as you are happy with the content of any other sites you reference off-LinkedIn. Many people leave this section blank, missing an opportunity to connect, as recruiters may have preferred ways of making contact other than LinkedIn itself.

Finally, you should make use of the About box as a summary showcase. Include your achievements and aspirations, or present an elevator pitch to your intended audience. Remember to use the language of the type of recruiter you are looking at.

Announcing That You Are Looking For Work

Below the headline is the Open to work section. It may be surrounded by a dashed grey line and use the words “Show recruiters you’re open to work” or similar. This section allows you to specify in quite some detail what type of work you are seeking and when. It also allows you to show this information to either everyone or to recruiters only. This is intended to mask your job search from your existing employer, however, LinkedIn admits that they cannot guarantee this last point, so be very careful when using this feature. (Note, you may also see “Showcase services” next to or instead of the open to work section). See Let Recruiters Know You're Open to Work for further guidance. Finally, filling in the Open to work section will also automatically create a job alert for you, which will notify you when matching jobs appear on LinkedIn.

Whether you should mention your job search in your LinkedIn profile is open to debate - especially if you’re employed. Many recruiters don’t use terms like job seeker in their searches and in fact, they may actually avoid profiles with the word “seeking” in them. It would appear that the Open to work section is an attempt to address this filtering out process.

There are various ways to let it be known that you are seeking new employment, ranging from more to less explicit or private:

  • You could for example announce this via a status update, which goes out to your entire network, which is very public
  • As mentioned above, you could also fill in the Open to work section, which is more structured and potentially less public
  • You could add a new work position titled “Open to opportunities”, or “Actively seeking new opportunities after voluntarily leaving my last role at XYZ with a long record of success and solid recommendations ” or more subtly, simply “Self employed”
  • You may wish to put an end date on your current work position without adding a new position
  • You could add a creative, witty and eye-catching headline without explicitly saying “unemployed“, such “"Writer seeking businesses in need of a friendly ghost (or ghostwriter)" or "Petroleum engineer ready to strike oil and make you rich"

You should experiment with these approaches and test results. Unfortunately there is a bias among recruiters against job seekers who are unemployed. While a recruiter may not hold it against you if you are recently unemployed and have not yet updated your profile, in any of these approaches honesty is of course the best policy.

Top Tip:

While you are building your profile, and again when you have finished, make sure you view your profile from your mobile device, especially on the LinkedIn app. This is where most of the views will come from, so it pays to ensure your profile looks good and is readable on these platforms.

Your Profile Details

The Experience and Education sections are the most similar to the standard CV/resume that you are more familiar with. LinkedIn provides a structured format for entering this information, but try and avoid a dry list of bullet points in the description. Recruiters and hiring managers respond to story-telling so telling a good story or two in your LinkedIn profile could make you more memorable. Try and weave an interesting tale about your successes in the job. Explain the problems and how you solved them. Keep your narrative succinct. For more detail, see the STAR method at the.Ismaili Interview Preparation Best Practice Guide.

Note also that this section also provides space for Licenses and Certifications and Volunteer Experience, which is of course an excellent opportunity to showcase any voluntary work you have taken part in, inside or outside the community. This can make you stand out over your competitors and you can show yourself as a compassionate, proactive individual.

Next are two important sections that LinkedIn offers to really help you leverage their platform and stand out from the crowd: Skills & Endorsements & Recommendations. It is hard to overstate the importance of these.

Top Tip:

Recruiters search for candidates using skill-related keywords, so those who post skills are 13 times more likely to have their profile viewed compared to those who don't and there are more than 45,000 skills to choose from on LinkedIn to bolster up your profile.

Here you can go all out and list all the skills you have acquired, but beware: while it’s tempting to list all the skills from your years of experience, keep your focus on what’s relevant to the job you’re seeking. These skills are automatically forwarded to people in your network for them to endorse, so it is a fairly hands-off process once you list the skills, which are automatically generated for you. LinkedIn now offers a way to take a skills quiz and display the results on your profile.

Professionals at mid-career are often looking to reinvent themselves after years of working in a specific type of job or industry, but too often, their LinkedIn profiles only reflect where they’ve been. Instead, focus on where you want to go. Find your ideal jobs, then build your skills profile around those and by all means, remove skills you no longer want to use in a job.

Top Tip:

You can create a customised LinkedIn profile URL that you can share with anyone and post on the web or in your email signature. It’s an easy way of controlling and highlighting your brand. It needn’t be just your name; be creative and choose something that makes you stand out.

After logging in to LinkedIn, go to your Profile page by clicking on the Me icon in the top bar. Near the top right click the link that shows “Edit public profile and URL”. Again, near the top right click the edit “Pen” icon to change the last part of the URL to something more fitting and relevant to the image you want to project.

The Recommendations section is another powerful tool and helps to provide social proof of your value to a recruiter. To get a recommendation from someone, simply visit their profile page and click the More… button to the right of their name and select Request a Recommendation. You can also give a recommendation and it is accepted practice on LinkedIn that recommendations are often reciprocal - you may need to give to get. Note that you can also switch recommendations “on” or “off by clicking the pencil edit icon for this section. This may be useful if you are seeking to highlight specific recommendations to target a particular sector.

Finally we come to the Accomplishments section, which can be added to your profile using the Add profile section button toward the top of your profile page.

Having completed your LinkedIn profile, you can now use it as a CV/resume instead of creating offline versions which will need updating separately. There are various options for this, from uploading an existing CV or downloading your profile as a CV PDF, through to saving and altering versions purely online. Using LinkedIn as a CV/resume builder can be very useful; if a recruiter sees you and wants to know more, this is the perfect next step for them. The best approach with LinkedIn CVs/resumes is to review this help article which details the options:

There is a lot of work involved in perfecting your LinkedIn profile, but you can do it gradually and LinkedIn automates much of it for you. You should tend your profile over time, much as you would a garden: some areas may need pruning and other areas given extra care. It is however the price of entry into the modern workplace as so much of recruiting revolves around LinkedIn.

The good news is that getting your profile in a fit state will already put you ahead of much of the competition. But to really leverage the power of the platform, you will need to build your network, proactively reach out to recruiters and - for the really savvy users - build your brand. This way, recruiters and great job offers come to you instead of you chasing them. We’ll now look at each of these in turn.

Avoid These Mistakes

  1. Don’t lie about anything
  2. Don’t post inappropriate or unprofessional photos, documents or content
  3. Don’t forget to clean up your Facebook. Facebook is the second most visited social network among recruiters (55 percent, versus 87 percent for LinkedIn). If recruiters don’t like what they find out about you on another social network, it can kill your chances at getting hired.
  4. Don’t procrastinate - post status updates, comment and connect regularly
  5. Don’t leave your activity feed on when making changes to your profile, until you are ready to share
  6. Don’t wait for others to connect to you - reach out to them first
  7. Don’t send generic connection requests - make them bespoke and relevant each time
  8. Don’t ask for recommendations from someone you barely know
  9. Don’t forget to keep checking your Social Selling Index

References and Further Reading

LinkedIn Privacy and Notifications Share Profile Changes with Your Network

LinkedIn Social Selling Index LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn For Students For Your Students

LinkedIn Slideshare New Feature: Add Your SlideShares to Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn Exemplar Lori Bumgarner, Passion and Career Coach - Passion & Career Coach | 3x Author | Speaker - paNASH

Renovo 7 Benefits of using LinkedIn

TopResume How to Use LinkedIn Effectively During Your Job Search

The Balance Careers What to Put on LinkedIn When You Are Unemployed

Save The Student How to use LinkedIn to get a job in 2020

The Muse The Best LinkedIn Profile Tips for Job Seekers

Business Insider How to use LinkedIn to find a job

AARP 10 Little Known Ways to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job How to Use LinkedIn to Full Advantage

Forbes Ten Ways To Use LinkedIn In Your Job Search

Strategic-IC  How To Increase Your LinkedIn Social Selling Index

Hootsuite The Complete Guide to Using LinkedIn Hashtags